Title: IN LUCK
Constructors: Matthew Stock & Amanda Rafkin
- IN-N-OUT (48D: Chain with Animal Style burgers) IN-N-OUT Burger is a regional chain of restaurants started in California in 1948. IN-N-OUT has a "not so secret menu" which is not found on their menus, but is available on their website. An Animal Style burger is cooked in a thin layer of mustard, and served with lettuce, tomato, pickle, grilled onions, and extra spread. IN-N-OUT currently has restaurants in seven states, but there are none in Iowa, and I have never eaten at one.
- ZELDA (1A: Title princess in a video game franchise) The original Legend of ZELDA video game was released by Nintendo in 1986. There have been many games in the franchise since then. The games are primarily set in the medieval Western Europe-inspired fantasy world called Hyrule.
- EEL (23A: Fish found backward in the next clue) and ANG (26A: "Sense and Sensibility" director Lee) This was a fun set of clues. I think this is the first time I've encountered a clue that referred to another clue for the answer. ANG Lee directed the 1995 movie, Sense and Sensibility, based on Jane Austen's 1811 book of the same name.
- GHEE (31A: Butter used for biryani) GHEE is clarified butter. It is used in making biryani, a rice dish originating from South Asia.
- CHANTILLY LACE (38A: Fine French fabric) CHANTILLY LACE is named after the city of CHANTILLY, France, where the LACE was made in the 18th century. CHANTILLY LACE was generally black (although white LACE was made), and therefore suitable for mourning.
- TOM (53A: Male cat) and BREEDS (12D: Types of dogs or cats) Not one but two cat-related clues! I have been on vacation for over two weeks now, and am looking forward to getting home later tonight. I know that my (non-TOM) cat, Willow, will be mad at me for being gone, and will be quite vocal in her protest, until I sit down and let her climb onto my lap. Then all will be forgiven.
- CHICKEN DANCE (56A: Choreography involving "wings") The CHICKEN DANCE! Originally composed by Werner Thomas, an accordion player from Switzerland, the CHICKEN DANCE came to the United States in 1981 during Oktoberfest celebrations in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The CHICKEN DANCE is a staple at many wedding receptions and dance parties.
- EMO (2D: Paramore genre) and ANGSTY (21D: Like 2-Down music) EMO is a genre of rock music characterized by ANGSTY, and sometimes confessional, lyrics. The EMO band, Paramore, formed in 2004, and currently consists of Hayley Williams, Zac Farro, and Taylor York.
- EID (23D: "___ Mubarak") "EID Mubarak" means "Blessed feast" or "Blessed festival" in Arabic. The Muslim greeting is used for the festivals of EID al-Fitr (a festival marking the end of Ramadan) and EID al-Adha (a holiday honoring Abraham's obedience to God).
- ELLEN (32D: Journalist Nakashima) ELLEN Nakashima, covers national security for The Washington Post, including cybersecurity terrorism and intelligence issues. She and her colleagues won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2018 for their coverage of Russian efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 election.
- SHANGHAI (6D: Yu Garden's city) Yu Garden is an extensive Chinese Garden located beside the City Temple of SHANGHAI in China. It was first built in 1559 during the Ming Dynasty, and has suffered damage and been repaired several times.
I am IN LUCK to be able to solve and blog about such a fun puzzle today! Three solid theme answers are just the beginning; there's so much to like about this puzzle. A lot of enjoyable clues today, including RESCUE (11D: "Buzz Lightyear to the ___!"), NOT SO (17A: "Au contraire!"), and TOOT (61A: Tugboat sound). In addition to the answers I've already highlighted, I especially liked FLEECE, LACTATED, and I'M HOME. I look forward to more Amanda & Matthew collaborations. This puzzle was a delightful way to begin my Sunday.